The liquidation of TV6 is not, as much of the Western media
insists on describing it, the end of independent national television
in Russia. TV6 is independent of the government, but it is controlled
by Boris Berezovsky, who openly acknowledges that it is politics,
not business, that drives his interest in the television station.
And his politics is to make trouble for the Kremlin.
Berezovsky's TV6, like Vladimir Gusinsky's NTV before the Gazprom
takeover last year, may not have been a model of unbiased reporting,
but it gave us a point of view different from that espoused by
the state channels. We viewers will be the poorer without it.
What the word independent also does not apply to in this case
is the judicial system. The Supreme Arbitration Court on Friday
ordered the liquidation of TV6 on the basis of a now-nonexistent
law, a law so inane and detrimental to business that the State
Duma took the trouble to repeal it last year.
As Boris Nemtsov said after the TV6 decision, "any talk
about the independence of Russia's judicial system will not be
possible without an ironic smile." The U.S. White House also
lamented the "strong appearance of political pressure on
The U.S. State Department said the case raises questions about
freedom of the press. And there is reason to worry.
The message the TV6 case has sent to journalists in Russia, and
to those who wish to control them, is strong.
After the TV6 ruling, journalists have been given more reason
than ever to think twice about what they choose to report.
Grigory Yavlinsky and other liberal politicians hit the nail
on the head in warning that regional authorities could interpret
the outcome of the case as a green light to crack down on local
independent press that dare to challenge them.
"There is no doubt that the liquidation of TV6 will lead
to a chain reaction of prosecution of mass media in the regions,"
Regional leaders, who traditionally act on what they see as
Moscow's cue, have a reputation for not tolerating dissent in
the media. Nemtsov, in a comment he wrote for The Moscow Times
in September, said that as much as 90 percent of regional media
is already directly or indirectly controlled by local authorities.
With the perceived TV6 precedent from Moscow, the remaining independent
voices in the regions could also be silenced. And, unfortunately,
the odds are that nobody in Moscow would hear about their demise
-- much less report on it.
the origianl at: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2002/01/15/005.html
The TV6 Case
The NTV Case